One found himself a Kentucky Derby favorite last year. The other had his Derby-contending status thrust upon him last month. Now, both find themselves the headline acts in a deep, talented, and contentious Florida Derby.
Tiz the Law, the 6/5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s marquee Kentucky Derby prep at Gulfstream Park, renews his rivalry with 4/1 Ete Indien in a 1 1/8-mile jaunt with the strongest Derby prep field to date serving as the on-track chorus.
Off-track, Gulfstream Park remains in the sights of Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana, who earlier this week, called for the track to follow a Broward County order prohibiting gatherings larger than 10 people and shut down. Track officials resumed racing Wednesday and plan to run the Florida Derby in front of no spectators.
Tiz the Law Holds 1-0 Advantage
When we last saw these two on the same track in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Tiz the Law was the Derby favorite and Ete Indien was a promising, but untested, allowance winner. Both ran true to their roles, with Tiz the Law passing Ete Indien at the top of the stretch en route to a solid, three-length victory. Behind Ete Indien, it was 11 ½ lengths back to third-place Toledo.
Along the way, Tiz the Law clocked a blistering 117 Equibase Speed Figure total — the top speed figure registered by any horse in the Florida Derby field. It also established the New York-based horse, who comes from the same stable and connections as 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion Funny Cide, as the early 2020 Derby favorite.
That performance also showed the Barclay Tagg-trained horse could rebound from a disappointing third-place finish as the favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes the end of November. That was the only time in four starts Tiz the Law didn’t find the winner’s circle.
Tiz the Law Brings The Whole Package
Tiz the Law ticks off all the boxes for a Triple Crown contender. He’s a stalker who can switch gears and finish when asked, he comes from a stamina-heavy pedigree born obviously by his powerful build, and his connections to the Derby Trail. There are two questions Tiz the Law needs to answer Saturday: can he go nine furlongs for the first time, and can he go nine furlongs and beat the best field he’s seen to date?
Tiz the Law vs. Ete Indien
Tiz the Law: 4: 3-0-1
Ete Indien: 5: 3-1-0
Tiz the Law: Barclay Tagg
Ete Indien: Patrick Biancone
Tiz the Law: Manny Franco
Ete Indien: Florent Geroux
Kentucky Derby Qualifying Points
Tiz the Law: 22
Ete Indien: 54
Tiz the Law: Constitution (sire), Tizfiz (dam)
Ete Indien: Summer Front (sire), East India (dam)
Tiz the Law: Stalker
Ete Indien: Pace-setter
Top Equibase Speed Figure
Tiz the Law: 117
Ete Indien: 113
Ete Indien, meanwhile, faces that latter question, since he’s never gone nine furlongs either. He also must solve the puzzle of beating his rival – and solve it from the outside post. In a replay of bad luck, Ete Indien drew the outside post for the second consecutive race – just like he did in the Feb. 29 Fountain of Youth.
That day, being an outsider in any fashion didn’t make a difference. Florent Geroux immediately turned Ete Indien loose out of the gate, grabbed the lead before the first turn, and boat-raced the field by 8 ½ lengths. It was a stunning display of Ete Indien’s pace-setting skills and early-speed — and a primer of what the Patrick Biancone-trained colt with the three wins and a second in five starts needs to do Saturday.
Plenty Of Speed To Burn
That tactical speed – he earned a 106 Equibase Speed Figure that day — is Ete Indien’s biggest weapon. His best Equibase Speed Figure is a solid 113, in the same neighborhood as Tiz the Law, and he isn’t a horse that needs the lead to flourish.
Despite Biancone’s earlier reluctance to consider Ete Indien a Derby contender, this allowed the Summer Front progeny to emerge as one. Along the way, Ete Indien emerged ahead of Independence Hall and Gouvernour Morris — who will both be waiting in the Florida Derby gate on Saturday — as Tiz the Law’s biggest rival among East Coast horses. At least right now.
With the lengthened Derby Trail, due to the race’s postponement until Sept. 5, contention remains even more fluid than usual, as do headline-act rivalries.